Monday, January 24, 2011

A look at the upcoming schedule: It's a doozy!

Of the fourteen games pictured above, 8 (but 9, because the Celtics play the Lakers twice) of those teams are playing above .500 basketball. As was aforementioned, the Green will be matched up against the Lakers twice in the span of two weeks. This span of games is also special because by the end, Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West should be back and the Celtics should be pinning down their rotations and poising themselves to make a strong run for 18. Yipee!

February is pretty much tough start to finish. You could point at the match ups with Sacramento, Charlotte, New Jersey and Golden State (I'm not including the LA Clippers in the gimmies, because in case you haven't heard... Blake Griffin should be in the running for MVP. Not rookie of the year. He's a proooooblem, man) and say that those are easy Celtics wins. Well- seeing as the Green just lost an easy win against Washington- who are we to say that any game is an easy win? Plus, Paul Pierce doesn't recommend that you do that:

“We know we can’t play like this going out west.”
“Like this” is an 85-83 loss to the wobbly Wizards. “Like this” is scoring 35 points in the first quarter and just 27 in the entire second half (11 in the last period).
Goliath slapped David around for a while, then sat back with a bag of chips and essentially “watched” the second half.
Looking back to that exercise and the coming of the Cavaliers, Pierce — a man of much confidence — expressed a healthy concern.
“These are the games I’m more scared of truthfully,” he said. “When we play the contending teams and the teams who are playoff-bound, you know, I know we’re going to be mentally ready from top to bottom.
“It’s these games right here that I worry about.”

Word, Paul! I completely agree with you. Plus, chew on this before you file anything away under "easy win":

-The game against Sacramento comes one day after playing against the Lakers in LA. We all know that the Celtics tend to take a little time to recover after big, emotional match ups. Plus, Tyreke Evans didn't play in the last game. He dropped 35 against Golden State last night.

-The C's definitely seem to have Charlotte's number, but this game could still pose problems. For one thing, it's sandwiched between show downs with Dallas (the Celtics should be looking to avenge their earlier season loss against the Mavs) and Orlando (hopefully they don't get caught looking ahead). Charlotte is a team that's improving and they have two of my non-Celtics faves in G. Wallace and S. Jackson.

-Okay, so New Jersey really should be an easy win. But like I said before. No game is a given, and this Celtics team must get up for EVERY game, something they have not been able to do. Plus, it's the last game before All Star Break, so some of the guys focus might be daydreaming about their upcoming beach vaca's... or about a week off in LA, since much of the core will be participating in the festivities.

-Many of the same reasons go for Golden State: this will be the first game back after the All Star Break. Who knows where their focus will be? Plus, they won't have had much practice time together, so there could be some rustiness. Could this game mark the return of Delonte West? Plus, don't forget that Baron Davis beat us at the buzzer last year. He was in a Clippers uniform at that time... But it still happened. What a nightmare.

Undeniably, with two match ups against the Lakers and showdowns with a couple teams chasing them for the top seed in the Eastern Conference (Miami, Orlando), the above games are games that the Celtics need to take advantage of and win... They just need to make sure they show up for them and play the complete 48 minutes. This stretch will be challenging for the Green, but I'm looking forward to it. I believe that this team will rise to the occasion and crank the intensity up. It will be the first time we see them playing with the full roster (JO excluded), and the addition of Perk and Delonte makes the Celtics a much more dangerous team than they already are. We're defenitly going to get a chance to see what these boys are made of. I think this stretch will be a defining time for them, a real chance for them to show who the 2010-11 Boston Celtics are, as opposed to just being the team that's trying again after coming so close to winning it all last year.